02 SES 14 C, Enhancing the Standing of Vocational Education and the Occupations It Serves
In Switzerland, VET attracts high achieving and lower skilled learners, which is the result of and contributes to its high standing (Renold & Rageth, 2016). Two-thirds of all young people enter an initial VET programme. Most Swiss citizens see VET as the ideal form of education at the upper secondary level, although they consider the status of VET as being lower than the status of academic education (Cattaneo & Wolter, 2016). Initial VET is mainly provided in the form of apprenticeships, serving around 230 occupations in all sectors (e.g., industry, health, crafts) (SERI, 2017). VET is attractive to learners, because it is contextualized and embedded in real tasks at the workplace. Learners become integrated in a team of adults, which gives sense to what they learn and work (Stalder & Nägele, 2011). Permeability between educational programs offers attractive career paths, e.g. by changing from initial VET to higher professional training or to university. VET is attractive to employers, because apprentices are trained according to the needs and standards of the economy (SERI, 2015). Employer organizations develop the curricula and define the skills to be attained, qualifications are standardized and nationally recognised. The standing of VET is particularly high in the German, but lower in the French and Italian part of Switzerland. How people perceive VET is rooted in historical developments, local cultures, and individual educational experiences (Bolli & Rageth, 2016; Bonoli, 2012). For a growing number of high achieving learners, VET becomes a second rather than the first choice. Employers struggle to fill apprenticeship places in demanding occupations. I will argue that a high standing of VET can only be reached and maintained, if VET attracts high achieving youth and if it can convince them that enrolment in VET leads to successful and meaningful careers.
Bolli, T., & Rageth, L. (2016). Measuring the social status of education programmes: Applying a new measurement to dual vocational education and training in Switzerland. KOF Working Papers, No. 403. Zürich: ETH Zürich, KOF Swiss Economic Institute. Bonoli, L. (2015). La formation professionnelle et la «question sociale». Aux origines de la «vocation sociale» de la formation professionnelle en Suisse. Revue suisse des sciences de l’éducation, 37(2), 383-397. Cattaneo, M. A., & Wolter, S. C. (2016). Die Berufsbildung in der Pole-Position. Die Einstellungen der Schweizer Bevölkerung zum Thema Allgemeinbildung vs. Berufsbildung. SKBF Staff Paper 18. Aarau: SKBF. Renold, U., & Rageth, L. (2016). Leistungsstarke Jugendliche stärken das Ansehen der Berufsbildung. Die Volkswirtschaft, 6-2016, 46-48. SERI. (2017). Vocational and Professional Education and Training in Switzerland. Facts and Figures 2017. Bern: State Secretariat for Educationa, Research and Innovation. Stalder, B. E., & Nägele, C. (2011). Vocational education and training in Switzerland: Organisation, development and challenges for the future. In M. M. Bergman, S. Hupka-Brunner, A. Keller, T. Meyer, & B. E. Stalder (Eds.), Youth transitions in Switzerland: Results from the TREE panel study (pp. 18-39). Zürich: Seismo.
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